Our communities are stronger when all Nebraskans have access to quality, affordable health care. Unfortunately, finding health care and understanding insurance can be difficult. One new law is working towards addressing this issue. In April, the Nebraska Legislature passed LB921, which will help hundreds of Nebraskans leaving correctional facilities access health coverage upon reentry.
Work to improve health care in Nebraska is never done in isolation. Many community members and organizations across Nebraska are passionate about improving reentry. One of these organizations, RISE, is a Nebraska organization that helps people prepare for a successful reentry. Jasmine Harris, RISE’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy, highlights the importance of health care at reentry:
“Healthcare is a basic need and if that’s not taken care of, having a successful reentry can be a struggle for many. Someone can’t focus on looking for work or maintaining employment if their mental health needs are not addressed, or if they have unmanaged chronic illnesses. And that can lead to further decline of their health and even substance use.”
What Does LB921 Do? LB921 (which was amended to include provisions of LB952) improves reentry practices by requiring Medicaid enrollment assistance and timely processing of applications prior to release so that those reentering have Medicaid coverage effective the day of their release or as soon as practicable thereafter.
Why is LB921 Important? Many Nebraskans leaving prisons or jails are newly eligible for health insurance coverage thanks to Medicaid expansion. This will help people access important care like mental health services, medication, preventative care, and chronic health condition management. Even though health care access is commonly noted as a problem for those reentering, health care is often not a focus of reentry practices in Nebraska.
Who will receive enrollment assistance? Those leaving Nebraska Department of Correctional Services facilities or county jails/county operated adult correctional facilities in counties with populations over 100,000 (currently Douglas, Sarpy, and Lancaster counties) who have been incarcerated for at least twenty-one consecutive days.
When will enrollment assistance begin in these facilities? These requirements become effective on July 1, 2023.
While ensuring access to health care often starts with connecting people with health insurance coverage, we recognize that there is still significant work to be done to ensure all Nebraskans leaving correctional facilities have access to health care.
Interested in learning more about LB921, sharing your story, or collaborating on health care access at reentry? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.